July 1, 2013
thought leaders | The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers

The Rainmakers

For our 2013 Rainmakers, success isn't just about fame and fortune. It's also about making a contribution to the logistics field and advancing the profession.

By DC Velocity Staff


Timothy E. Carroll

Mark Hilborn

Bill Hutchinson

Hanko Kiessner

Robert Nathan

James B. Rice Jr.

Rick Sather

Robert Simpson

John Vogt

Judith Whipple

John A. White III

Some measure success by salaries and titles. Others use a different yardstick altogether. Take the 11 professionals selected as our 2013 Rainmakers, for example. When asked about their proudest professional accomplishments, one spoke of the rewards of nurturing talent within his organization and the satisfaction of watching protégées go on to achieve greater glory. Another cited the opportunity to develop a product that helps users meet sustainability goals. Yet another pointed to his work in establishing an environment where all team members can make a difference for themselves, the company, and the organization's customers.

So who are these Rainmakers and how were they chosen? As in the past, DC Velocity selected the 2013 Rainmakers in concert with members of the magazine's Editorial Advisory Board from candidates nominated by readers, board members, and previous Rainmakers and ThoughtLeaders. This year's selections represent different facets of the profession—from practitioners to academics to suppliers of goods and services. But as the profiles on the following pages show, they're united by a common goal of advancing the logistics and supply chain management profession.

If you'd like to nominate someone for our 2014 Rainmakers report, please send your suggestions to DC Velocity's editorial director, Peter Bradley, at peter@dcvelocity.com.

Timothy E. Carroll Timothy E. Carroll
As vice president of global execution at IBM's Integrated Supply Chain, Timothy E. Carroll has played a vital role in his company's push to achieve continuous improvement in its abilities to meet the demands of an increasingly interconnected and global environment. He is a member of IBM's Innovation and Leadership Team.

Carroll joined IBM in 1981 and since that time, has held positions in such areas as worldwide manufacturing, distribution, and fulfillment for IBM's personal computer business. In 2005, he was named the senior executive in charge of executing the divestiture of IBM's personal computer business to Lenovo. That same year, he became vice president of global operations for IBM's integrated supply chain. In 2011, he was named to his current position, in which he focuses on execution of all aspects of supply chain operations worldwide.

Q: At IBM, you were involved in a number of initiatives to transform its supply chain. What was the biggest challenge in getting those initiatives started?
A: The biggest challenge in starting IBM's supply chain transformation was fully understanding the need to move from an international company to a globally integrated enterprise. This meant establishing global standards while having the ability to execute regionally. For us to understand the difference and be able to explain the difference to ourselves and then, prove the value was our most formidable task.

Q: What has been your biggest professional accomplishment to date and why?
A: My most significant professional accomplishment has definitely been developing talent and the leaders of the future. This is critical for business. The best legacy to leave a company is to develop leaders who will move the enterprise forward. In my 31-plus years at IBM, I'm proud to have developed hundreds of employees in their careers, and most notably, the dozens of employees who have gone on to become IBM executives all around the globe. Also, helping supply chain management achieve recognition as a core business discipline and as an essential "execution engine" to a company's core strategy. Sometimes we forget that a little over a decade ago, there was no such thing as a "supply chain" discipline, either in business or academia, as there is today.

Q: How did you end up in supply chain management?
A: I joined IBM as a systems analyst in manufacturing, where I was responsible for identifying problems and determining corrective actions. Over the years, I was responsible for brand operations, sales operations, supply chain, and a major divestiture. Some of the roles were deep functional disciplines, while others involved the end-to-end integration of business models. At the heart of it, my roles all shared a common foundation: to create order from chaos, and to remove any distraction that inhibits the creation of value for the enterprise, its clients, and its shareholders. Over the years, I found that working in a global supply chain discipline helped me to utilize those core characteristics that I most enjoy.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing supply chain professionals today?
A: One of the biggest challenges today is global talent development, which requires a fine balance between mature market talent and growth market talent. It is a constant balancing act, as you don't want to swing the pendulum too far one way or the other in a global enterprise. Then, once you have the talent in the proper places, you need to motivate and retain that talent.

The second biggest challenge is the increased opportunity for risk as our global operations become more intertwined. Whether it be an unforeseen natural disaster, a political situation, or economic conditions, what takes place regionally now has some level of effect globally. It's forcing supply chain leaders to shift focus from optimizing what we know to optimizing for what we don't know.

Q: What advice would you give a young person considering a career in logistics or supply chain management?
A: I want young people to know that supply chain careers are truly fascinating. They are breathtaking in speed, and certainly not for the faint of heart. New concepts and forward thinking are a necessity. As soon as you stand still, you will quickly fall behind. But having said that, permission is granted to move forward when you execute with excellence every day. You need to drive consistent, flawless execution. Every day, you have the opportunity for great accomplishments, tough setbacks, and the knowledge that what you do will have a direct influence on your clients, shareholders, and company results. Personally, I can't think of a better career.

Mark Hilborn Mark Hilborn
Responding to the needs of pet owners in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico may seem a long way from handling logistics and operations in Operation Desert Storm. But Mark Hilborn, senior vice president of supply chain at Petco Animal Supplies Inc., has been able to apply the experience and knowledge gained in his 20-year career in the U.S. Army (he retired as a lieutenant colonel) to his roles in industry.

One of the most important of those skills is the ability to build strong teams that focus on continuous improvement. Hilborn accomplished that in his previous position as vice president of logistics operations at Sears Holdings, where he was responsible for the company's 29 distribution centers. He has also put those skills to work at Petco, where he and his team have redesigned and expanded the Petco distribution network to keep up with the company's growth. Hilborn oversaw the design and implementation of a new 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Georgia as well as an 800,000-square-foot building in New Jersey and a second corporate headquarters in Texas to join Petco's existing headquarters in San Diego.

In addition to managing the company's 10 distribution facilities, Hilborn has worked to create a robust supply chain that can support Petco's e-commerce operations and multichannel growth strategy.

He serves the industry as a whole by being a member of the steering committee for the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and a member of the group's Supply Chain Leaders Council.

Q: What initially attracted you to logistics? What keeps you in this area?
A: I started in logistics when I was commissioned as an ordnance officer with the U.S. Army, and after a 20-year career, made the transition to retail logistics. Whether in the foxhole or at the register, you have to plan and execute tactically and strategically in a way that supports the organization's vision, drives continuous improvement, and enhances the development of your teams. In both environments I've enjoyed the accountability to my teams and to the customer.

Q: How did your early career in the military prepare you for a logistics management role in the private sector?
A: Success in the military or in retail comes down to strong leadership. Early on in my military career, I was part of several successful teams and worked for several stellar leaders. The exposure to those leaders, who took care of their soldiers and led by example, helped mold my leadership style. I've also worked for a few individuals who taught me what not to do as a leader, which equally contributed to my development. Leaders who know how to motivate their soldiers or employees by providing purpose, direction, and inspiration are successful in either type of operation. When your team knows that you're fair and consistent and that you support their success, there is no limit to what they can do.

Q: What skills or characteristics do you look for when you go to add someone to your team?
A: I look for integrity and a passion for learning, and I think talent is more important than experience. Making sure the person is the right cultural fit for the company and is excited about the chance to learn and grow is very important. In addition to having a leadership philosophy consistent with the Petco culture, I look for diversity of skills in positions of increased responsibility; experience in leading people, projects, and organizations; ability to facilitate and sustain organizational change; an aptitude to develop and manage organizational talent; and the capacity to apply analytics in seeking operational solutions. Once talent is added to the team, we have a collective responsibility to develop, leverage, and promote them within Petco, not just in logistics.

Bill Hutchinson Bill Hutchinson
There haven't been many dull moments for Bill Hutchinson since he joined Dell Inc. in April 2007. His arrival coincided with the start of the great migration from PCs to smartphones and tablets. It also came as Dell, one of the supply chain industry's pioneers, was remaking its operations to focus on bundled solutions in addition to the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) sector, where Michael Dell made his name and created a legend.

Today, Hutchinson mans Dell's global fulfillment and logistics business as its founder focuses on plans to take the company private. Hutchinson joined Dell from retailer Best Buy Corp., where he was vice president of logistics overseeing Best Buy's 22 U.S. distribution centers.

Q: Dell has morphed from an OEM to a solutions company. And its supply chain has morphed from a configure-to-order operation to one built around bundling service, software, and hardware solutions to meet the needs of its diverse customer base. How has that changed the way you approach your job?
A: We have spent a lot of time building segmented supply chains and designing fulfillment and logistics solutions that work best for each respective segment. When you throw in the challenges of supply chain design in emerging markets and our unending focus on continuous improvement in more mature markets, it makes my job very challenging—and a lot of fun.

Q: Since you joined Dell, digitization has migrated from the PC to smartphones and tablets. Has that caused you to rethink how Dell's supply chain is positioned in the marketplace?
A: Product form factor changes will drive transportation modal decisions, but they can also create the need for new supply chain capabilities like postponement, serial number tracking capabilities, and incremental packaging and bundling that is closer to the customer. The PC market is still very much alive, and we definitely have more variety and capability in what we fulfill these days.

Q: Michael Dell seems to be focused these days on his efforts to take the company private. Does he still have a day-to-day focus on the supply chain operations? And would a privately held Dell impact your job in any way?
A: The entire operations team is very focused on delivering on our plan for improvements in our key operational metrics. We are also very aligned with the business units as we leverage our supply chain capabilities to assist them in their market goals in each area.

Q: What best practices have you been able to migrate from the big box retailing world to utilize at Dell?
A: We are leveraging more deferred transportation solutions to better meet the needs of the business in certain segments. We also have a much more robust process to determine who manages different transportation legs in the supply chain. One of retail's core competencies is understanding how to modify delivery terms and freight management responsibility across the supply chain. We have used that very effectively at Dell over the past four to five years.

Q: The IT sector appears to be in a state of constant upheaval. Does working in this world pose special types of challenges for a supply chain practitioner?
A: My view is that every industry has a requirement to reinvent and question what you do periodically to evolve. The "clock-speed" of the high-tech world is much faster than other industries. This forces us to innovate and evolve our capabilities more rapidly than other industries do. We incorporate cross-industry best practices as well as ideas from all levels of our organization and our supply chain partners into our supply chain strategy. I enjoy the challenge. A job in the supply chain profession is constantly changing and evolving. You need to have a strong outside-in perspective, a strong team, and the ability to make decisions and set direction quickly to stay ahead.

Q: Is there one piece of advice you would give someone coming out of college who wants to pursue a career in the IT supply chain?
A: If you want to work in a fast-paced industry focused on growth, build competitive global supply chains all over the world, and have a relentless drive to continuously improve, this is a great industry to work in.

Hanko Kiessner Hanko Kiessner
Hanko Kiessner is chief executive officer of Packsize International, a privately held "on-demand" packaging company he founded in the United States just over a decade ago. Packaging is in Kiessner's blood—his family's business in Germany has been providing corrugated materials since the 1960s. In a bid to expand the marketing opportunities for corrugated material, Kiessner started to experiment with corrugated converting machines in Europe in the 1990s. In 2002, he introduced the machines, which produce cartons tailored to the exact dimensions of their contents, to the U.S. market.

Kiessner is a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Warehousing Education and Research Council, and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Ernst & Young recognized Kiessner with its 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Manufacturing and Distribution category for the Utah region. He holds undergraduate and graduate business degrees from the University of Utah.

Q: Packsize is your family's business. Can you tell us how it came to be?
A: My father started in Germany as a supplier of corrugated material, the same basic product that now feeds our machines. We developed the machines in the 1990s and introduced them to the United States in 2002 with a new business model that provides day-one savings. The corrugate and the equipment are a complete solution.

Q: Your company's business model is rather unique, in that you supply customers with the corrugated converting machines at no cost, as long as the customer buys its corrugate from Packsize. How did that model come about?
A: Well, it was born out of several years of no success. While I was in Europe trying to sell the packaging machines, it was not working. It was just too much for companies to make the initial investment. As I was driving on the autobahn one day, I had an epiphany, and this model was born. I concluded the machines were not yet saleable, but I believed in the product. So, we would have to give away the machines. I called the office and told them this, and they laughed at me. Then, when we opened the office in the United States, we tried this model and it worked.

Q: What are the advantages of this model?
A: The benefit of this model is that it makes it easy to become a customer of on-demand packaging.

Customers get the benefit of the machines without having to justify the upfront capital investment. It also provides ongoing savings on corrugated and fill materials, since less volume is used. Other benefits are reduced product damage and some labor savings. It also reduces shipping volumes by up to 40 percent, which translates into transportation savings. And the end customer's experience improves significantly since that customer receives a right-sized package.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you and the supply chain profession face today?
A: For us, the biggest challenge is that not everyone adopts the same technology at the same time. Usually, to get mass adoption, you need 15 percent or so of early adopters. We need to be patient to work through the early adoption phase.

On a grander scale, energy is the biggest challenge. Moving products will always require energy, but we need to be able to switch to new forms of energy.

Q: What has been the most satisfying part of your career?
A: The single most satisfying piece is that we have a product that meets sustainability objectives. Staples, for instance, is saving some 122,000 trees a year with on-demand packaging. That is less pollution, less bio-mass—basically, we are able to keep a small forest intact. We have also helped companies cut costs, such as in manufacturing, which has helped to save jobs here in the U.S. And lastly, we have a team at Packsize that is passionate about what we do and the impact we can make. It is exciting to build a business that can make money while doing the right thing.

Robert Nathan Robert Nathan
At 31, Robert Nathan is a supply chain "tweener." He is old enough to have paid his dues and in the process gain respect for the pioneering efforts of the "post-deregulation" generation. Yet he is young enough to grasp what today's logistics marketplace wants and needs, and how those demands will evolve over the next five to 10 years.

As those who cut their teeth in the 1980s begin to retire, the leadership baton will be passed to people like Nathan, founder and CEO of Chicago-based third-party logistics service provider Load Delivered Logistics LLC. He says the industry is only just starting to recognize the power of the IT tools available to it and predicts that as use of these tools becomes more widespread, the industry will change faster than ever before.

Q: How did you get into the business?
A: I began delivering fasteners and bolts at 16. I also provided logistical support during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Doing both, I observed many supply chain inefficiencies and a lack of technological innovation. It was the early experience of being on the front lines that led me to believe there was an opportunity to make a significant impact on the global logistics community. That was behind our launch of Load Delivered in 2008.

Q: There's been much talk of a "generation drain" where there aren't enough people your age capable of stepping into leadership roles currently filled by those nearing retirement. How does the industry generate interest among folks your age?
A: I have great respect for the contributions that previous generations have made in our space. That said, I think my generation, Gen Y, is excited to step into leadership roles. Technology and education are providing the next generation of logisticians with the skills necessary to support the way business is conducted today.

I believe the leaders of tomorrow exist in many organizations; however, they need to be cultivated and given the freedom to innovate, grow, and achieve upward mobility. I am a firm believer in organic growth and place a strong emphasis on "intrapreneurship"—giving young leaders the opportunity and support to develop an idea that improves overall service or increases operational leverage for our organization. This has allowed several of our people to grow into upper management roles before the age of 30.

Q: You have come of age in a digital world. What do you see as the biggest changes digitization will have on this business?
A: Collaborative social enterprise systems, transparency, and the ability to harness "big data" will disrupt current operations. The days of transportation being an "old school, antiquated industry" are over.

Q: You have about 10 years on today's college grad. Is there a difference in attitude between someone like yourself and someone just leaving college today?
A: There has been a shift in the mindset of today's college graduate. We are working with a generation that is more concerned with immediate results versus more long-term, project-oriented work. Gen Y, the "microwave generation" as I call them, is impatient, and the work they engage in has to yield the same speedy results.

I also believe Gen Y is more concerned with learning about the multiple facets of each enterprise and with having a range of roles within each organization. And as a group heavily reliant on their mobile devices, it will be interesting to see how Gen M (Mobile) influences our space in the coming years.

Q: You have years ahead of you in the industry. What is your outlook for it? What are the biggest opportunities and the biggest challenges?
A: As world population continues to increase, climate change takes its toll, and natural resources become limited, we will need to create smarter supply chain solutions. Alternative means of transporting goods will be developed, and the need to maximize efficiency in the workforce will be met with automation.

The development of unmanned transportation appears to be one way to address some of these issues. Freight drones and robot-operated trucks may be common modes of delivering goods. I also do not believe we are far away from discussing the use of underground railroads to mitigate congestion.

James B. Rice Jr. James B. Rice Jr.
Jim Rice wears a multitude of hats at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL). As deputy director, he oversees research, industry outreach, and CTL's executive education courses. He also teaches a course on the interaction between business functions and supply chain management in MIT's master of engineering in logistics program.

When Rice ventures off campus, it's often to teach at CTL's SCALE research and education centers in Spain, Colombia, and Malaysia, or to speak at conferences on supply chain resilience, a subject he's been studying for more than a decade. An appointment as a visiting faculty member periodically takes him to the Politecnico di Milano M.B.A. School in Milan, Italy, where he teaches in the supply chain management program.

Prior to joining MIT, Rice managed manufacturing and distribution operations at Procter & Gamble, and was a sales and market manager at General Electric. He earned his M.B.A. in operations and finance from the Harvard Business School and holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Q: What have been the most important growth areas for CTL during your tenure?
A: There are several, but three stand out in particular. One is the master of engineering in logistics degree developed by [CTL Director] Yossi Sheffi. It was the first graduate degree program aimed at practitioners already in the field. It's more oriented toward developing leaders in logistics and supply chain management, as opposed to developing model builders.

The second is the development of the SCALE education and research network—SCALE stands for "supply chain and logistics excellence." First, we created the SCALE center in Zaragoza, Spain, then in Bogotá, Colombia, and most recently in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

The third is the Supply Chain Exchange outreach program, which I direct. Through that program, companies exchange information with us and with each other. When I began, there were maybe 20 companies participating. Since then, it has grown to 45 sponsoring companies, all of them shippers, carriers, and third-party logistics companies, and we now have a pretty broad research agenda. It's the foundation of how CTL works with industry.

Q: Tell us about the SCALE centers in Colombia, Spain, and Malaysia.
A: SCALE provides CTL with the opportunity to conduct research around the world and to cultivate students who will be global leaders. We integrate the SCALE programs into ours. We hire the faculty, and they mostly copy what we do, but there are regional enhancements. Zaragoza and Malaysia have a business outreach program, they offer executive education programs, and they offer the master of engineering in logistics graduate degree. They also have a research agenda they pursue. So they're tracking very closely what we do at CTL.

Bogotá is a little different. Instead of a full degree program, we created a graduate certificate course in supply chain management that is supported by a number of academic institutions. To create the center, we partnered with [the Colombian logistics company] LOGyCA, which supports the program and develops outreach. We do plan to expand the SCALE network, but we have chosen not to expand too quickly and will choose our partners carefully.

Q: What research are you working on now?
A: Recently, I was asked by the Department of Homeland Security's National Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce to apply supply chain resilience principles to port operations. As part of that project, my group developed Port Mapper, an online app that allows users to identify where else cargo could go if a particular port had a failure.

Containers can go almost anywhere, but other types of cargo, depending on their nature, can only go to certain locations. One question we looked at is, if we took out the largest port handling a specific commodity, how much additional capacity would we need at other ports to accommodate the redirected cargo? We calculated, for example, that we would need an additional 23 percent capacity [at the other ports capable of handling] chemicals and 25 percent additional capacity for food, but those ports would not be able to provide that much additional capacity. You also have the issue of hazardous materials and other specialized commodities. For instance, most ports that can handle explosives are on the East Coast. If those ports go out, you have a long trip to reach another qualified port.

I've also begun research on supply chain innovation with Antonella Moretta of Politecnico di Milano in Italy. We're conducting interviews asking what people think supply chain innovation is and how do you go about achieving it. It's early, but we think it will produce findings that will be useful to practitioners.

Rick Sather Rick Sather
As vice president of customer supply chain for North American Consumer Products at Kimberly-Clark Corp., Rick Sather is responsible for customer service, distribution operations, supply chain analysis, and customer supply chain strategy. He has been with Kimberly-Clark for 28 years in various supply chain and operations roles in Fullerton, Calif., and Neenah, Wis.

While leading the customer supply chain team, Sather has established a lean/continuous improvement culture that's focused on driving exceptional outcomes for team members, customers, and shareholders. He has also been involved in the company's efforts in North America to create a demand-driven supply chain.

Q: At Kimberly-Clark, you were involved in an initiative to make its supply chain more demand driven. What was the biggest challenge in getting that program started?
A: We have been on our demand-driven journey for several years. There have been and there remain many challenges. The biggest challenge in getting started is building an understanding of what it means to be demand driven and the benefits it can provide. This is especially true given the number of stakeholders that will eventually be impacted—both internally across functions and externally with customers and suppliers. As with any change, the best way to gain acceptance and support is to deliver results. Whether through pilot activities or rolling out a new process or system, demonstrating results along the way and sharing stories and examples is the best way to build understanding and support for a long-term effort such as this.

Q: What would you say to other supply chain managers to convince them to adopt a demand-driven supply chain?
A: I would share real-life examples that demonstrate the benefits of adopting a demand-driven supply chain. We have invested in people, processes, and systems to enable what we call "shelf back replenishment." This capability has enabled us to focus on what is happening from the shelf back up through the supply chain. For example, we have been able to apply this for promotional events with some key customers—monitoring actual event pull at the store level and then deploying more product to the store groupings where the event is pulling heavily and less to those where the pull has been slower. This led to a simultaneous increase in sales and decrease in stock-outs, costs, and inventory levels. From my perspective, these examples are the best way to make the case for pursuing a demand-driven journey. Who would not want to get these benefits?

Q: How did you end up in supply chain management?
A: I studied manufacturing engineering and took a couple of logistics courses as part of my studies. I was introduced to APICS in one of these courses, and while I was an intern at 3M, one of its managers was pursuing APICS certification. I decided to pursue this and was certified before I graduated.

My first role at Kimberly-Clark was as a floor supervisor working the third shift in a distribution center. From there, I've never looked back. During my 28 years at KC, I've had 14 different roles.

Q: What's your greatest accomplishment in the profession to date and why?
A: If I had to pick one accomplishment, it would really be about people. I've been personally very fortunate with the freedom I've had over the years to pursue improvements. We faced many problems when I first started, and we still face many problems today. And now that I'm in a role where I can influence the culture for a broad team, I want to establish an environment where all team members can make a difference for themselves, our customers, and the company.

About eight years ago, I started my own personal "lean" journey. This helped me promote a culture that would allow our team members to have the same opportunity that I was so blessed to have during my career. It is very gratifying to see a team member who has only been with the company a few weeks or months share a problem-solving story where he or she has made a big impact. My greatest accomplishment would be to embed this culture deeply.

Q: In general, what's the biggest challenge facing supply chain professionals today?
A: The amount of information available at our fingertips is tremendous. It also presents supply chain professions with a great challenge. Information by itself adds no value. But being able to take information and turn it into data that can be effectively analyzed, brought to an insight, and then acted upon is a big challenge we all face, especially as we pursue becoming more demand driven.

Q: What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in logistics or supply chain management?
A: Supply chain is a great area for anyone who is interested in analysis, problem solving, and working with a broad range of people. The breadth of career opportunities is really astounding when you think about the range of areas the supply chain covers.

Robert Simpson Robert Simpson
When Robert Simpson returned from Vietnam, where he had served as a combat engineer/medic, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in health care. Perhaps his experience there made supply chain management a natural calling. He recalls that when he was in Vietnam, "We never had what we needed."

Today, he is president and CEO of LeeSar Inc. and Cooperative Services of Florida, the supply chain and purchasing organizations for the Lee Memorial Health System and Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. Earlier in his career, Simpson was director of operations for the Northeast Red Cross Blood Service, director of materials management and project coordinator for the first USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston, and vice president of materials management for the Neponset Valley Health System, also near Boston. Later on, he served as vice president of Healthcare Services of New England, a major group purchasing organization, and in executive positions at TFX Surgical Group. Simpson, a graduate of Stonehill College in Massachusetts, joined LeeSar and Cooperative Services in 2002.

Q: Tell me about your experience at LeeSar.
A: We started with a small operation of about 60,000 square feet of distribution space. The fill rates were horrible [when I arrived]. They were at 62 percent. The ownership was thinking about shutting it down. They said, "Let's try once more and bring in a new president." We took the fill rates to 99 percent.

Here's what I did: I shut the company down one afternoon and brought everyone into a room. I said, "I don't care if you push a broom or drive a truck or pick orders. Starting today, your number one mission in life is fill rates. We are going to meet every Thursday afternoon, and you are personally going to tell me what you did to improve fill rates, and there's no pass." We got focused.

It also helped that we didn't have to carry 35 different bedpans as a national distributor must. We worked hard with our hospitals and members and standardized everything. We have one IV company. We have one suture company. It's easier to keep your fill rates up if you're dealing with standardized product lines.

Q: What have you accomplished for your member hospitals?
A: We are delivering directly to the nursing floors, so we've eliminated a lot of inventory plus all their storerooms. We're doing a number of other things as well. We run a surgical pack manufacturing company out of LeeSar that saves the hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars. We run a pharmaceutical repackaging business that is again saving money. We do nuclear medicine manufacturing.

LeeSar has really become a supply chain think tank for the rest of the country. We are the ones out on a limb, taking risks for health care, trying different things to lower costs.

Q: From your perspective and experience, what role can supply chain management play in helping control costs?
A: Administrators are learning that the supply chain is a very important part of running any hospital. The number two cost for any health care system is materials. Utilization, standardization, correct delivery—all those are critical in keeping the cost of materials down. Hospitals track materials expenses by cost of supply per patient-care day, and those have dropped substantially at the facilities we service.

John Vogt John Vogt
Imagine trying to get extremely expensive custom-designed oil and gas equipment into a country like Angola, where the average time to clear customs is 44 days. Now, imagine that any delay could cause millions of dollars in oil rig downtime. Sound like a nightmare? Not to John Vogt, vice president of global logistics at the oil field service company Halliburton Co. To him, it sounds like "fun."

When Vogt talks about his career, he frequently mentions how much he enjoys solving complex problems. South African by birth and now an American citizen, Vogt got his start in logistics when he went to work for a chemical import/export terminal in South Africa and transformed the operation into an integrated logistics company that delivered product right to the customer's back door. Vogt has also been an executive vice president at the South African forwarding company Rennies Group and started his own consulting company, which specialized in international logistics strategy and warehouse design.

Vogt's passion for logistics also spills over into his "spare time." After finding that most logistics textbooks approached the subject from a marketing angle, Vogt collaborated with two South African academics on a "fundamentals" book that takes a more technical approach to the subject. **ital{Business Logistics Management,} published by Oxford University Press, is now in its fourth edition. Vogt has also served as a university lecturer and has been heavily involved in the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, where he currently serves as the president of the Houston Roundtable.

Q: How is logistics management in the oil industry different from logistics in other sectors?
A: The oil and gas industry is different in two main ways. Traditionally, you have been working in some of the more volatile regions of the world. I think that volatility is decreasing, but it's still there. The political turmoil that took place in North Africa and the Arab Middle East led to major changes in countries in which we had substantial investments. Halliburton had to leave because of that turmoil, but now we're going back into them.

The second is the range of products. I move everything from a box of O-rings worth $2 to a command center that's worth a million dollars. The command center that's managing a well has got computers in it and it's got encrypted software, so customs regimes, methodologies, and paperwork are major issues for us. Furthermore, you're not putting that inside a container and shipping it; it's a full-sized truck. So you have a wide range of movements and types of movements into places with poor infrastructure.

Q: With all the complexity, what is it that keeps you awake at night?
A: What keeps me awake is the challenge of moving goods without loss. These are usually bespoke goods, so if you lose them, that delay could cause a million dollars a day in rig downtime. In this industry, logistics is generally an enabler for us to win and earn revenue. We're not transporting an intermediate product. We're sending products and equipment in to do the work, and if we're late, that is a problem.

The other thing that keeps me awake is the range of products we have and the licensing and customs compliance requirements we must meet around the world. Doing it correctly and as efficiently as possible takes a lot of effort—especially when you are in 100 different countries. We do a large amount of training and discussion, and we enforce, control, and manage [customs compliance] extremely carefully, but we're in 100 countries and a large portion of this is being done through third parties. That one wakes me up at 4 in the morning.

Q: Your own career has spanned three different continents. What suggestions do you have for logistics professionals looking to broaden their own international experience?
A: If you're going to do global logistics and develop the ability to work with multiple cultures and people and capabilities, you're going to have to manage your own career.

My advice is, Go and be adventurous. Go live somewhere where you can learn the culture and get involved in wider capabilities in the system. Do it with your manager, but design your own career. Be prepared to be out of the country for short periods, a year or two. It gives you an experience and a knowledge way beyond what you will pick up at university or sitting in an office in America. And it stands you in extremely good stead to be able to come back and say, "I've been in these countries, and I've seen and dealt with these different infrastructure standards and needs."

Judith Whipple Judith Whipple
Dr. Judith M. Whipple, associate professor in the supply chain management department at Michigan State University (MSU), got her start at General Motors, working in production, purchasing, and materials management. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in business administration with a minor in logistics from MSU under the guidance of the late Dr. Donald Bowersox. A respected researcher, Whipple has co-written more than 80 research papers, book chapters, case studies, and magazine articles, and has delivered more than 100 presentations at conferences and seminars. She's received numerous awards, including "best paper of the year" from the Journal of Operations Management and (twice) from the Journal of Business Logistics.

But Whipple was nominated as a Rainmaker for more than her publications. As one of her supporters said, "Judy has been the lead in numerous research initiatives that proved to be thought-provoking and always had a strong value proposition. It was never research for the sake of research." She's also been recognized for her teaching skills, winning Michigan State's universitywide Teacher-Scholar Award and being named Teacher of the Year by the Supply Chain Management Association.

Q: You worked at General Motors early in your career. Why did you switch from industry to academia?
A: My undergraduate degree is from GMI, now Kettering University, which is a co-op school that General Motors used to own. I studied logistics and started working for GM. When I decided to get a Ph.D., I was interested in the advanced study of logistics and purchasing, and I thought I would bring that knowledge back to my job. But during the first year of my doctoral program, I had the opportunity to teach, and I just loved it. I also had the opportunity to work with [MSU Professor] Don Bowersox and other faculty and doctoral students on the textbook World Class Logistics. Those experiences convinced me to follow a career in academics.

Q: What do you consider to be your most important mission as a supply chain educator?
A: Even though logistics and supply chain have come a long way in terms of recognition within corporations, we're still battling to get recognition in academia. So one important mission is teaching people across the university about the importance of supply chain management and introducing prospective students to the field.

Another is to help students learn about the power of logistics and understand how a company can become more successful by having a stronger supply chain network, for example. It really is exciting to see students gain an appreciation of the complexity and challenges of supply chains. I love it when students tell me they can't go into a grocery store now without thinking about supply chain management. They have an understanding of the numerous processes required to get those products there.

Q: What led you to choose supply chain collaboration, integration, organizational design, and security and risk management as the focus of your research?
A: Collaboration and integration are something I've been interested in throughout my career, starting with my experience in purchasing at GM. I could see how relationships with some suppliers worked really well, while others could use improvement. Additionally, I worked in various functions—for example, I worked in a plant before I went to purchasing—so I understood the need for cross-functional integration. That drove a lot of my early research—I wanted to help people learn how to make improvements.

My research in the food industry led me to security and risk management. It was after 9/11, and there was a lot of concern about how to keep the food system secure. I worked on a research project funded by the Department of Homeland Security that dovetailed with my research on collaboration and integration. When you think about it, it's only through collaboration that we can identify the weakest links in a supply chain. Integration is key, too: Do you have integrated processes and common protocols? How do various functions work together to detect breaches and other risk issues?

My research on organizational design is newer. It came about because we were approached by companies that were trying to figure out how to organize and integrate their internal supply chain activities.

Q: How important is communication and collaboration between academics and practitioners?
A: In order to conduct relevant research, I need to be listening to and working with practitioners. ... That enables me to keep my research focused on issues that matter to people in industry. That, in turn, helps me in the classroom because I can talk to students about what's really going on in industry and share best practices.

On the flip side, people in industry often don't have as much time as they'd like to learn about what's going on outside their industry and at other companies. We can help by synthesizing lots of data and identifying best practices. We can also give managers meaningful insights based on the results of our research.

John A. White III John A. White III
John White claims that he is something of the black sheep of the family. He comes from a long line of academics, including his famous father (also named John White), who was an early leader in career-focused material handling education at Georgia Tech. Instead of a life in academia, John White III chose a career as a practitioner within the industry, and those with whom he has worked are grateful for that choice.

White is currently the president of Fortna, a consulting, engineering, and distribution solutions firm. He brings over 20 years of industry consulting experience to this position after stints as managing officer and vice president of supply chain management at Capgemini, and leadership and management posts at Manugistics and Accenture. White is currently active in the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, the Warehousing Education and Research Council, Georgia Tech's school of industrial and systems engineering, and a number of charitable organizations.

Q: Your father served for many years as a professor at Georgia Tech and was later chancellor at the University of Arkansas. Was it his influence as an industry educator that led you to enter the supply chain profession?
A: I was clearly influenced by my father in the area of professional services and problem solving. We were always exposed to what he was doing around the dinner table growing up. Likewise, I began working while I was in high school and during college as a consultant at my father's firm, SysteCon. I knew early on that I wanted to pursue a career in professional services and apply problem-solving skills to assist clients in optimizing their supply chain operations. I have also been fortunate to have a number of great mentors throughout my career, my father included, who have helped shape who I am today as a supply chain professional.

Q: Fortna was at one time an engineering and consulting firm, but many companies do that now, including a number of equipment manufacturers. How do you differentiate your firm from the rest of the pack?
A: Fortna, of course, is more now than just a design house. We are a broader solutions company with a focus on people, process, systems, and equipment. We provide our clients with solutions for whatever their problems are. But we have always been evolving as a firm. In the 1980s, we were a forklift house. Then, we began offering design and consulting services. In the past 10 years, we have tried to change the game to be a partner to our clients. We want them to hear the best solutions and not just hear from someone trying to sell them equipment. We can bring them the best of breeds. We are accountable to them, and we want them to know that we climb into the boat with them.

Q: What advice would you give to someone just entering the profession?
A: You need to be the CEO of your own career. You have to manage it—don't expect your company to manage it for you.

Also, I am an avid reader. I think people new to the profession need to understand that to be successful, they must be lifelong readers. And they need to learn about things beyond their own current position and gain an understanding of finance, business, thinking skills, management, and leadership skills.

It's also important to give a lot of thought to the coaches and mentors you select. Choose them carefully and then tell them what you admire and that you want to emulate that ability. Ask them to help you develop the skills you need. If you approach someone like that, they will not turn you down.

Q: What are the biggest challenges supply chain professionals will face in the next five years?
A: I boil it down to three words—talent, talent, and talent. It really comes down to talent acquisition, talent development, and talent retention. In a world where people jump from company to company, so much is lost in knowledge and experience. We are a people business, and we are only as good as our people.

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